Record rainfall in 2012 saw flood rescue teams called into action more times than ever before.
Last year was the busiest year ever for RNLI flood rescue teams as the UK recorded its second-wettest year on record. Teams were deployed to six separate flooding events in the Westcountry – two in Bridgwater, two in Exeter, one in Lostwithiel, and one in Barnstaple.
Nationally they were deployed to 11 flood events throughout 2012 – the highest number of deployments in a single year since the team was founded in 2000.
In late December they saved a woman's life and rescued several householders during a dramatic night of flood operations in Devon and Cornwall. A volunteer team worked through the night of December 22 to save a woman who spent 50 minutes clinging to a branch in flood water near Barnstaple.
Robin Goodlad, the RNLI's incident commander during operations in the Barnstaple area, said the three volunteers took a "huge risk" to search for the woman at Umberleigh. He said: "These three volunteers were working in complete darkness. They were fully aware of the risks. This was a high-risk operation with a high benefit and they decided to get on with it."
The South West teams also rescued four people from flooded homes in Barnstaple, and 12 people, two dogs and six cats at Lostwithiel.